Night attacks plague Masterton

By Jordan Bond editorial@age.co.nz -
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Attacks in Masterton occur after people come out of pubs with "nowhere to go". PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK
Attacks in Masterton occur after people come out of pubs with "nowhere to go". PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK

Masterton is the most dangerous place in the Wairarapa, according to figures released by Statistics New Zealand.

There were 64 victims of assault, sexual assault or robbery in the area last year.

East Masterton was the second most common place for assaults in the region with 33 for the year.

Statistics New Zealand calls each of the figures a "victimisation".

Masterton central ranks sixth in New Zealand for number of victimisations in a secondary urban area, defined as a population between 10,000 and 30,000.

Area prevention manager Senior Sergeant Gordon Crawley said the majority of assaults in central Masterton occurred on Friday and Saturday nights between 11pm and 2am, often after offenders had been drinking.

"People come out of the pub with nowhere to go. Generally, they'll meander up Chapel St to get something to eat. That's when we tend to have incidents occur," Mr Crawley said.

"We know where the problem spots tend to be, so we tend to patrol them quite heavily at those times of the night."

He said police were working with the council and the alcohol industry to prevent alcohol-fuelled assaults from occurring.

Police and council had also discussed installing a light in the Essex and Chapel streets carpark -- a common area for violence, Mr Crawley said.

"For these people, darkness is their friend. If they're into that sort of activity where they're going to assault or attack somebody ... putting in a great big light makes it much easier for us to police them and much less comfortable for them to be there.

"From time to time the simple way to deal with it is to arrest people if they misbehave, but ideally we want to avoid doing that because we want people to behave themselves."

He said even simple measures -- including trimming trees so people can't hide from victims and CCTV cameras -- could help reduce the amount of violence.

Assaults reported in the Wairarapa region, 2015

Masterton Central 64

Masterton East 33

Landsdowne 18

Solway South 10

Masterton Railway 4

Opaki Fernridge 4

Masterton West 4 Central

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